Founded in 1980 by Anthony and Diane Hirsh, luxury jewellery brand Hirsh is now under the creative direction of Jason Hirsh with his wife Sophia as Managing Director. Here, Chloe Frost-Smith speaks to the second generation Creative Director about designing, selecting gemstones, and the relationship between art and jewellery
1. Is it true that you designed your first piece of jewellery when you were 10, and if so, what was it?
Yes it is, I used to sit in my father’s office, looking for things to do. My father used to have me draw the jewellery on stock cards (before digital cameras and film was too expensive). I loved the colour gems more than diamonds and drew out a suite of jewellery (necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring) using a pattern of emerald, ruby, sapphire, diamond set in 18k gold, very 80s! My father humoured me and made it. In those days Hirsh, used to manufacture jewellery for other retailers, our first store was still 2 years away, so he took the suite to the Dallas Jewellery show. I went with him and my mother and the suite sold on the first day. It was purchased by a prominent jewellery chain in the U.S. that had 16 stores at the time, so my father needed to make a few more! My father paid me $1 commission which I spent on a coca cola and cracker jacks (American popcorn), let’s just say my taste and remuneration has changed somewhat.
2. What is the inspiration behind your new Autumn/Winter collection?
I’ve always been inspired by nature and the beauty of the different colours found in nature – be it in gemstones or in the changing of the seasons. My father also shared this love of nature and began a tradition of designing a unique snowflake pendant every winter. This is a tradition that Sophia and I have continued and really look forward to every year. As the Hirsh 40th anniversary is soon approaching, we decided to create three beautiful snowflake pendants this year; an emerald, sapphire and a ruby piece. Just like snowflakes found in nature, each snowflake we design is completely one-of-a-kind and very special. Our new spring 2020 collection also takes inspiration in nature and features natural colour diamonds – definitely one to look out for.
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3. Which gemstones are you drawn to work with in particular and why?
I am drawn to work with anything unusual, I try and seek out gems that are hard to find other examples of, be it the rarity of colour or the combination of shape and colour. It is especially why I like round natural colour diamonds such as the 7-carat round, colour changing chameleon diamond I parted with last year. With the amount of rough you lose, natural colour diamonds are rarely cut in round which is what makes them all the more special when they are. In colour gemstones, my favourites are those with an emerald cut. The reason for this is that, emerald cut gemstones leave no place to hide inclusions in the gemstone. However, my personal favourite gemstones of all are Alexandrites and sapphires, mainly for the colour change in the Alexandrite and the range of colours found in sapphires. My wife Sophia has an amazing bi-colour sapphire (half yellow, half blue) that I thankfully get to see on her every day. We also have an amazing selection of Alexandrite jewellery at Hirsh that I’m very proud of.
4. How would you describe the relationship between jewellery and art?
Well, art is subjective and whilst in the past artists like Seurat would spend four years on a painting, some artists today create art in a day, in some cases multiple pieces in factories. You can find the same thing in the world of jewellery. There are many jewellers who mass produce their craft either to satisfy their clientele who want the same pieces, or to fill their many stores. At Hirsh, we individually produce each piece by hand so we consider everything we create to be a piece of wearable art. In addition, the vast majority of our pieces are the result of a collaboration with several artists, from my creative direction through to the design team who draw and refine each piece and then on to the mounters who turn our dreams into reality, and finally, the setters, who refine the claws on each stone.
5. Do you ever consider trends when designing your pieces?
Whilst remaining quite timeless in style (the majority of our jewellery is made to be worn season after season), I always feel like we are right on the pulse. When we were creating our “Cloud” collection, 9 months after the initial design, I was walking down Bond Street and saw Anya Hindmarch’s window displaying her latest bag collection featuring clouds which made me smile. Three or four months later, Hermès launched new windows with cloud bags and a cloud theme. The difference is that, unlike high fashion and just like London’s ubiquitous rain clouds, our collection is set to stay.
6. Which piece of iconic jewellery from past or present do you wish you had designed?
I have a lot of respect and admiration for Andrew Grima– a British jewellery designer based in Mayfair during the 1960’s and 1970’s. I feel he truly transformed the world of jewellery at that time, by creating intricately designed pieces of jewellery using textured gold and unique stones. My wife and I love watermelon tourmalines so I specifically love and would have loved to design his ‘gift’ ring featuring a beautiful watermelon tourmaline and a gold bow. I really enjoy his use of colour and texture in his creations and find is work highly skilled yet playful which is something we always aspire to in the creation of our jewellery at Hirsh.
To view the brand’s collections visit: hirshlondon.com